August 09, 2007

There Is Still Time, Brother

[The title of this post comes from the banner seen fluttering in the wind, at the conclusion of the 1959 film of Nevil Shute's novel, On the Beach, as noted here: "At the end of the film is seen an abandoned banner, reading 'There is still time... Brother'."

The entry at the second link goes on to note this:
The New York Daily News (December 18, 1959) condemned the film: "This is a would-be shocker which plays right up the alley of a) the Kremlin and b) the Western defeatists and/or traitors who yelp for the scrapping of the H-bomb.... See this picture if you must (it seems bound to be much talked about), but keep in mind that the thinking it represents points the way toward eventual Communist enslavement of the entire human race."
The more things change...]

Abbas Edalat and Mehrnaz Shahabi begin with this:
It is appalling, if unsurprising, to read the neoconservative cheerleader Oliver Kamm arguing in these pages that the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki 62 years ago saved lives and ended suffering. The subtext is plain. The same camp whose vocal endorsement led to the present catastrophe in Iraq are now hawkishly gazing at Iran. The same absurd and dangerous logic that defends the nuclear atrocities of 1945 can now be used to support the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons against Iran - the threat of which in turn makes the idea of a conventional attack appear more palatable. Now, more than ever, we should be unequivocal in our moral position: as Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has said, the mere possession of nuclear weapons today should be viewed with the same condemnation and horror as we have regarded slavery and genocide in our modern civilized world.
In a post the other day on the 62nd anniversary of the devastation visited upon Hiroshima, I cited an earlier essay concerning the unforgivable lies about the horrifying crimes of 1945, the same lies that continue to be peddled today by monsters without conscience: "The Loathsome Lies in the Service of War."

Edalat and Shahabi then analyze the possibility for Armageddon that now hangs over us:
All five original nuclear states are in violation of the [nuclear non-proliferation] treaty for failing to take effective action towards disarmament. The US systematically contravened the treaty in the 1980s and 1990s by successfully bringing pressure to bear on western governments and companies, as well as China and Russia, not to enter nuclear collaborations with Iran - which, as a signatory of the treaty, has been entitled since 1970 to receive material, technology and information for the peaceful use of nuclear power. This eventually drove Iran, after the bombing of Iraq’s Osirak nuclear plant by Israel in 1981, on to the black market in order to pursue its nuclear programme. The subsequent partial concealment of Iran’s nuclear activities gave rise to western suspicion of its nuclear ambitions, but rarely does the media characterisation make reference to the context in which the recourse to the black market took place. It is rare, too, to see mention made of the fact that the IAEA has found no evidence of a weapons programme after over 2,200 hours of snap inspections of Iranian nuclear plants.

In marked contrast to western suspicion of Iran, the real nuclear programme in Israel has been eagerly sponsored by the governments of France, Britain and the US. They have actively supported Israel’s development of an arsenal estimated to include more than 200 warheads. It is a weapons programme Tel Aviv is determined to shroud in secrecy. Mordechai Vanunu served an 18-year prison sentence, including 12 years in solitary confinement, after speaking publicly of Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons in 1986. Last month he was sentenced to a further six months in prison for speaking to foreigners.

Even as Iran discusses renewed inspections with the IAEA, the risk of a military attack on its nuclear facilities remains high. Israel’s threat to deploy nuclear bunker busters to destroy Iran’s weapons potential is in line with the US’s national security strategy of 2006 and the Pentagon’s doctrine for joint nuclear operations which justifies use of tactical nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states as a "deterrent". The ultimate irony is that the leading violator of the treaty, the US, and the region’s sole nuclear power and non-signatory, Israel, are contemplating nuclear strikes on the pretext of nuclear limitation.

Last year John McCain, a Republican presidential hopeful and an advocate of keeping the military option against Iran on the table, was asked what the consequence of an attack on Iran would be. His response was only one word: “Armageddon.” After three devastating wars driven by the US, Britain and Israel since 9/11, the prospect of a catastrophic war against Iran hangs over the region.
Not one of the leading Democratic presidential candidates disagrees with the advocacy of "nuclear strikes on the pretext of nuclear limitation." So much for the Democrats' devotion to peace and the sanctity of life, if those concepts have any meaning at all.

In an entry about the exceptionally dangerous situation in Pakistan, which I urge you to read, Chris Floyd summarizes the devastatingly awful state of play in the United States:
We can't really put it any plainer than this: they literally do not care how many people die and suffer as a result of their policies. The only restraint -- the only one -- on their actions is the need to preserve the acquiescence of various American factions and institutions to their own illegitimate, authoritarian rule. They have continuously, relentlessly pushed the boundaries to see how far they can go and still retain this acquiescence -- and at every step, no matter how outrageous, they have found that it still holds. And so they keep pushing one step further. (We can see a perfect example of this in the FISA farce: Bush demands draconian powers of unfettered mass surveillance; the Democrats give them to him; then he demands even more.) There seems to be no limit to the docility of Americans in the face of this authoritarian onslaught -- clearly, the nation as a whole has lost the independent spirit of its founders -- but still, a tyrant must always tread carefully, testing the waters for what the populace will swallow. Killing a million innocent Iraqis is obviously OK -- but would two million, or six million, cause an uproar? Dropping bombs in residential areas is fine with the folks -- but would carpet bombing Sadr City be a bit too much? But these restraints, such as they are, are merely political; moral, legal, and ethical concerns play no part in the Bushists' calculations.
You should also read Floyd on the momentous and unforgivable lie that Bush just recently repeated: that the Iranian government "has proclaimed its desire to build a nuclear weapon." Does even a single prominent voice -- of a national politician or in our subservient, mendacious media -- contradict him? No.

I certainly understand that many people feel overwhelmed and even paralyzed by the unrelenting train of horrors that crushes us beneath its seemingly inexorable path every single day. Many people may conclude there is nothing to be done, and that we can only pray that the next six months or few years do not bring us catastrophe that quickly spreads out of anyone's control, destroying hundreds of thousands or even millions of additional lives.

And yet. I can only direct you once more to this entry, "Still Another Call to Activism." I admit that my heart is far from fully in such an appeal at this point. I've made such appeals numerous times, in many different forms, providing those specific suggestions that seemed worthwhile to me. For the most part, they have all fallen into a soundless void. I see no reason to think this time will be any different.

Still, I make the appeal once more. As some wise observers have had tragic occasion to note, to hope in the absence of hope is the most difficult act of all and, in the end, the only one that matters.